What Every Woman Really Needs to Know:
As a Coach, one of the most common things I hear from women when they’re embarking upon a fitness journey is “I don’t want to get all big and muscley!”
Ahh, if only I had a penny……..
Firstly, can we just get something straight, once and for all: You are NOT accidentally going to get jacked! It just ain’t gonna happen.
Now I don’t wish to sound harsh, because every fear when legitimately felt, is real. But I do find it frustrating when so many people hold themselves back and stifle potential over such an inaccurate preconception.
Although to be fair, when you consider that muscularity is typically viewed as a masculine trait, then I guess this viewpoint makes some sense. However, many of the most admired female bodies have a good degree of muscular conditioning. I’m loath to use the word ‘toned’, but you get what I mean.
I don’t think anyone would consider the athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill or the swimmer Sharon Davies as overly muscular. What about gymnasts and dancers? All work hard and very many use resistance-based exercise as part of their regular training.
So, what’s not to love about a bit of muscle? Let’s get right into it and look at some facts:
Muscle Is Extremely Difficult for Women to Build:
This especially true when dieting. While it is entirely possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, it’s definitely more difficult to do and usually requires a strategic approach and guidance from a Coach who knows their stuff.
Ideally, to build muscle, you need to be in a calorie-surplus and training hard. Trust me when I say this: building muscle is damn hard to do!
Even for men, who have a greater disposition for musculature, the acquisition of any significant amount of quality, lean mass is a very long journey. If only it were that easy!
To put this into perspective: one of my clients is a semi-professional athlete. She absolutely trains her ass off every single session; putting most of the guys to shame. Increasing strength and muscle-mass is her main goal. And yet, even with superior genetics, it’s an extremely slow process.
Gains Come Gradually and Can Be Dialled Back:
What if you decided to pump iron and suddenly found that you do have a propensity to develop muscle?
Firstly, you’d be considered the luckiest bloody person at the gym. Secondly, you can always take your foot off the gas and dial things back.
It takes real focus to gain muscle. Switching the emphasis towards other fitness goals or simply not eating enough to stimulate growth – maintenance-level caloric-intake – is a sure-fire way to stop any gains in their tracks.
Alternatively, you could simply train less often and less intensely. If you somehow were one of those rare easy-gainers, you would have an extraordinary degree of control over how you choose to look.
Most Women Find They Like Having Muscle:
Ignoring the fact that the majority of women will instinctively rail against that statement: I have yet to experience a client – even those who’re initially fearful of muscle – who didn’t fall in love with their firmer arms, tighter butt, or their strong and shapely legs.
Just so we’re completely clear on this point: THAT’S MUSCLE!
Put it this way, if you embark upon a successful fat-loss diet; you’ll get smaller. However, you won’t get any firmer and those soft under-arms (I hate the term bingo-wings) will remain devoid of tone.
Hint: it’s the triceps muscle located at the rear of the arm that you want to target. Hit this area with some decent weight-training and you’ll really notice the difference.
Plus, you get to be a whole lot stronger. Where’s the downside to that?
More Muscle Doesn’t Equate to More Size:
Muscle is denser than fat! It takes up less room.
That’s why I pretty much ban my clients from weighing themselves. If you were to lose 5 pounds of fat and gain 2 pounds of muscle, the scales are never going to reflect your achievement. But you will certainly see a difference.
That’s why measurements, before and after photos, and noticing how your clothes fit, are far better ways to track progress.
Again, banish the idea that building muscle directly equates to being bulky. A sensible approach with an intelligent training program, will ensure your gains create a pleasing aesthetic.
Build Muscle to Create an Illusion:
Muscle allows you to change the shape of your body and create an illusion.
OK, so you may lean towards being a pear-shape, apple or whatever. While there may be a limited amount you can do about the width of your hips, for example; you can make them appear smaller by developing your shoulder muscles and paying attention to quad-development.
Broader shoulders also make the waist appear smaller by contrast.
The strategic adding of muscle to certain areas of the body can dramatically alter your look, despite certain genetic and/or structural limitations.
That’s why traditional dieting, without any resistance training, rarely produces the kind of results people envisage.
You Carry Fat, Muscle Carries You:
Is there really a better way to articulate the contrast between a body laden with excess fat and one where a layer of muscle literally propels it through life?
Excess fat has no purpose; it weighs you down. In contrast: muscle is activated every single time you move; making every action easier and more fluid.
Muscle provides stability, support, a degree of protection even. In fact, I’ve yet to meet a single person who didn’t feel more confident after having acquired a little muscle. Honestly, it really does have a psychological impact!
Think about it this way: a traditional diet may result in a smaller bum, but it won’t give you a firm, round butt!
Maybe it’s the actual achievement of successfully building some muscle. Or perhaps it’s just the fact that you feel so much fitter, stronger and altogether better.
Either way, the benefits are more than just physical.
Why not challenge yourself, discover what you’re capable of. Put preconceptions and concerns aside; allowing yourself to discover training with weights and life with a little more muscle on your frame.